- Do Marr Ciften Dave Holodiloff 4:29
- Epic Kopanitsa Dave Holodiloff 6:38
- Caje Sukarije Dave Holodiloff 5:26
- Elijjah’s Hasapiko Elijjah McCullar 4:40
The latest album from the Dave Holodiloff Band, Balkan String Projekt II: California Caravan will take you on a string based musical journey from the Balkans to Big Sur and back! Fusing traditional folk music from Bulgaria, Romania, Greece, Albania, and more, along with a few Eastern Europe-meets-California inspired originals, band leader Dave Holodiloff collaborates with various guest musicians to bring the “Projekt” to life. In addition to Holodiloff’s signature mandolin and vocals, the album features violinist, singer, and cumbus player Elijjah McCullar on a variety of ballads, upbeat dances, and some wild and jazzy jams. Hop on the “California Caravan” and enjoy acoustic world folk fusion at it’s finest from the Dave Holodiloff Band’s Balkan String Projekt!
The story of Balkan String Projekt II: “California Caravan” featuring Elijjah McCullar:
High on the instant success of the self titled “Balkan String Projekt” album released in January of 2018, the Dave Holodiloff Band’s Balkan String Projekt ensemble didn’t skip a beat, continuing to work on new material and playing shows on a near constant basis as “The Projekt” or in a variety of other high energy acoustic incarnations.
Then, feeling the inspiration to once again etch their ever expanding repertoire into sonic stone, the band headed back into the studio that same Summer to begin recording what was to become known as the “Epic Kopanitsa”, a nine part Bulgarian 11/8 dance medley that band leader Holodiloff arranged into an intense and emotionally riveting composition featuring Michael Martinez on piano and Peter Mellinger on violin.
Continuing to expand the repertoire and testing out new material at countless live shows, they returned to the studio in the Spring of 2019 to lay down the “Martensko Pravo” featuring Isaac Misri on guitar. It’s an obscure, highly technical, and energetic tune that “Zac” learned from a gaida player while camping in the mountains of Bulgaria the previous season and brought back to the Projekt!
Next, with the recent addition of fiddle phenom, cumbus virtuoso, and singer Elijjah McCullar, the ensemble’s repertoire multiplied once again as the young prodigy brought a multitude of horos, ratchenitsas, syrtos, sirbas, folk songs, and more to the table. By the Summer of 2019, after many magical nights of live performance, Dave decided it was time to capture some of these special moments in the studio, and so back they went…
At this point, the Projekt went into a productive frenzy, recording the bulk of the material for the album over the rest of the 2019 Summer season. In addition to Elijjah McCullar’s contributions on both vocals and strings, Dave also brought in longtime musical collaborator John Klein on upright bass as well as Bulgarian singer Dessislava Gnaan for a couple of old world folky duets. To top it off, Holodiloff sang some festive classics like Caje Sukarije and Saraiman, tipping his hat in tribute to some of the most popular Romani songs that inspire many to this day.
Now, the album was almost ready….however, before being able to put the finishing touches on the tracks, Dave embarked on a couple of successful international tours to Peru and Italy followed by the local Christmas holiday season. After a brief recovery period it was time to finally release this long awaited album, right? Well….the worldwide economic shutdown in the Spring of 2020 put a halt to almost all musical endeavors. Tours, shows, and events were cancelled and there was so much uncertainty about the future that the musical community seemed to go into a holding pattern, waiting for things to go back to some semblance of normal.
An unexpected blessing of the shutdown was extra time to work on new material! So, after life started to stabilize again in the Summer of 2020 with no idea when or if the full album would ever be released, the Projekt decided; why not record a few more songs and let the chips fall where they may? So, Michael and Peter followed Dave back to the studio to record a new Balkan mix of one of his beloved and time tested originals, “London Bridge Breakdown” as well as another Romanian folk favorite “Ileana Ileana”. Then, Elijjah added his hauntingly beautiful Greek inspired original, “Elijjah’s Hasapiko”, which had become a staple of the Projekt’s live repertoire over the past year. Additionally, Elijjah added “Do Marr Ciften”, a standard Albanian folk song rearranged as a catchy acoustic pop hit, of which band leader Dave’s describes as “one of the best tracks on the album”.
Now, in the Fall of 2020, after some challenging setbacks which ultimately served as an instrument of musical growth, the latest masterpiece of Dave Holodiloff’s Balkan String Projekt is finally here: “California Caravan”. In Dave’s predictably unpredictable style, it takes on folk music of the Balkans and fuses a unique “California vibe” to it that is all his own. With an all star cast of fellow musicians bringing in their own individual talents, the album blurs the lines between old world tradition and “west coast acoustic festival jam band”, conjuring a mix of otherworldly sounds that can only be described as “quality acoustic music”.
Finally, a special recognition goes out to Elijjah McCullar for his outstanding talents and vision on this particular Projekt, “California Caravan”, lending a sweet sound to every note. Performing in a multitude of capacities as singer, composer, and multi instrumentalist, Elijjah’s contributions to the album have been nothing short of immeasurable. So hope on, and enjoy the ride across sonic landscapes from Bulgaria to Big Sur and back!